Pakistan v South Africa 2013-14 October 7, 2013

Pitches and heat a test for SA seamers - Donald

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When Allan Donald was last in the UAE, Dubai did not have a single building in the top 50 skyscrapers in the world. It also did not have a metro service, nor did it host international cricket. In 1996, Sharjah was where it all happened.

Donald was a member of the touring squad that played in the Pepsi Cup that year. He was not included in the starting XI for any of the matches so it's hardly a surprise he does not seem to remember much about the place. Instead, it makes him think of somewhere else, where he played two Tests in 1997 and where he gained experience that will come in handy for South Africa's bowlers on this tour.

"The pitches here remind me a lot of the wickets when we played in Pakistan," he said. And there, he recalls, things were not easy for fast men. "As a quick bowler. when times are tough, you have to very imaginative and you've got to be gutsy, Most importantly, the ball has to reverse."

For that reason, Donald, South Africa's bowling coach, believes South Africa will rely on Dale Steyn even more than usual. "There is no one better than him when there is an end open and when he steps up and changes gears. There is no-one better at running through a team than he is," Donald said.

When Steyn last played for South Africa, he endured an injury-riddled time at Champions Trophy in June but has since recovered from five lingering issues. Like many of the players who've had a break, Donald said the time off will have reinvigorated Steyn and made him even more determined. "He is as fresh as I have seen him. He has dealt with his niggles. He is absolutely raring to go," he said. "He is very eager and hungry to make a big impact on this series," Donald said.

With conditions set to provide a challenge to the seamers, Donald still believes the pace barrage, led by Steyn, can have an effect if they stick to a few basic principles. "The new ball will be massive," he said. "When we played in Pakistan, Bob Woolmer taught us that the best chance of getting wickets was upfront because the ball scuffs up a lot quicker so we had to make batsmen play a lot more in the first 20 overs," he said. "We have to figure out how to put a dent in the top order."

South Africa will approach Pakistan with aggression, not just upfront, but throughout the innings. "Lines have got to be straighter, we've got to hit the pitch really hard, bowl a bit fuller than normal and be prepared to sacrifice a few runs. You have to be smart because this is not a place where you can bowl back of length and expect results," he said. "Patience and discipline will be key."

Donald expects South Africa's bowlers to do all of that in temperatures that will soar close to 40 degrees while they are in the field, and he realises it is a big ask. "The extreme heat is going to be testing for us in our fitness and endurance," he admitted. "But there are no excuses. We know what standards we set for ourselves as No.1.team and if we have a bad session, there will be no blaming the conditions and the pitches."

That means the South African bowlers' biggest battle, although it would appear to be physical, is actually going to be mental. "This is the one series which will really test us as a unit because the mental intensity is going to be a big thing," Donald said.

In preparation, South Africa held a meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the importance of being psychologically strong enough. "We can't afford not hitting the ground running. Yesterday, Graeme and Russell [Domingo] chatted about how important it is that we don't play catch up cricket."

South Africa have been slow starters in the past but they have managed not to let it trip them up recently. In England, they appeared lethargic on day one of the Oval Test last year before going on to win the match and the series. Australia wore the bowlers down for the better parts of the Brisbane Test in November last year and if not for a day lost to rain, may have been able to win the match but it was South Africa who triumphed at the end of the series in Perth.

Gary Kirsten helped them understand that even if a session does not go their way, the possibility to go for the kill could still remain. Donald said the coach Domingo has continued to enforce the same ideas.

"We spoke about the team culture yesterday and what it means to the players," he said. "The guys have really taken to Russell in a short space of time. For us it's business as usual." And to enforce that motto, Donald need only refer to the country the team is in, where, 17 years since he was last here, business is the driving force behind all the changes he continues to marvel at.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on October 8, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    Its just about who wants it the MOST isn't it regardless of whose NO1 Team in statistics.

  • on October 8, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    @SurlyCynic who is writing SA off...i think NO one they are clearly the deserving NO 1 test side....everyone is praising SA and talking about pak chances... hoping for the good cricket.... cheers

  • on October 8, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Sa will be too much for pak

  • SurlyCynic on October 8, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Those fans from Pakistan who are writing off SA's chances should remember that SA are better than Zim. So they have a chance. Looking forward to the series.

  • on October 8, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    SA will win ,watch out for DEVeliiers and Duminy. But Pakistan will have an outside chance if they play Barbar. batting is going to be tough for pakistan just as they struggled in Zimbabwe

  • Paracha420 on October 8, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Pakistan biggest problem would be to handle Devillers and Amla.....Smith would struggle again...

  • Zahidsaltin on October 8, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Note it, it is Zulfiqar Baber and not Said Ajmal who is going to destroy SA batting line in UAE.

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    in last few years , pieterson perfomance against pakistab has been xcellent , he saved a test match for them which was almost lost . . .

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Lets wait till after the first test to say who would win. SA are not England and play spin bowling better than them. This SA bowling did well in SA and hopefully do the job again in UAE. would like it if philander could bowl well and take a lot of wickets.

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    South Africa should win easily , pakistan batting is very poor , Steyn will easily rip through top order

  • on October 8, 2013, 21:05 GMT

    Its just about who wants it the MOST isn't it regardless of whose NO1 Team in statistics.

  • on October 8, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    @SurlyCynic who is writing SA off...i think NO one they are clearly the deserving NO 1 test side....everyone is praising SA and talking about pak chances... hoping for the good cricket.... cheers

  • on October 8, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Sa will be too much for pak

  • SurlyCynic on October 8, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Those fans from Pakistan who are writing off SA's chances should remember that SA are better than Zim. So they have a chance. Looking forward to the series.

  • on October 8, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    SA will win ,watch out for DEVeliiers and Duminy. But Pakistan will have an outside chance if they play Barbar. batting is going to be tough for pakistan just as they struggled in Zimbabwe

  • Paracha420 on October 8, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Pakistan biggest problem would be to handle Devillers and Amla.....Smith would struggle again...

  • Zahidsaltin on October 8, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Note it, it is Zulfiqar Baber and not Said Ajmal who is going to destroy SA batting line in UAE.

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    in last few years , pieterson perfomance against pakistab has been xcellent , he saved a test match for them which was almost lost . . .

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Lets wait till after the first test to say who would win. SA are not England and play spin bowling better than them. This SA bowling did well in SA and hopefully do the job again in UAE. would like it if philander could bowl well and take a lot of wickets.

  • on October 8, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    South Africa should win easily , pakistan batting is very poor , Steyn will easily rip through top order

  • LionsofLanka on October 8, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    SA seamers are teared out due to excessive playing in IPL and it will be exposed here against Pakistan. Donald will be looked in frustrations as we had seen him on some IPL team bench(don't know exact team) when team's bowlers badly hammered by opponents. Pakistan may be seen upsetting SA as like they did with England few years ago.

  • landl47 on October 8, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    I don't foresee bowling being SA's problem. If they have a problem at all (and I'm guessing they won't) it will be how they play the spin of Ajmal and Rehman.

    Pakistan's batsmen couldn't hit their way out of a wet paper bag.

  • gsingh7 on October 8, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    sa are too good to lose to pak. i recon it will be 2-0 this time around. hope amla and devilliers scores massive tons and styen bundle pak batsmen for under 50 runs like they did in sa. after all amla and styen are best test players in the world.

  • aa61761 on October 8, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    It clearly shows how worried Saffas are about their batting against spin, they are including Duminy in the team instead of Tahir. Duminy is clearly a batsman who can bowl a little bit. If you look at his bowling in first class cricket, matches=76, wickets=46, best bowling=5/108, average=41.71, economy=3.45, strike rate=72.5, 4wickets=1, 5wickets=1: these are clearly the figures of a support first class cricket bowler - not the figures of a test cricket wicket taking bowler. If the wickets behave like they did in series against England then the result will not be much different as it was against England.

  • on October 8, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    another opportunity for us fans to rewitness the greatness of South Africa. I would like to see this team play the rest of the world. steyn, philander, Robin and morkel vs anderson, ajmal, junaid khan and swan. amla, kallis and AB vs sanga,clarke and KP. Smith vs cook. This will be a mouth watering contest.

  • Gregg22 on October 7, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    I agree with Neville. It would be interesting to see Tahir in subcontinental conditions. On the flip side, i've always liked the idea of having Peterson in the (test) side. He does add a lot of depth to the batting, but besides that, is truly an underrated bowler. Also, i question the effectiveness of Tahir against, well, Pakistan. You would expect them to know a thing or two about his game. I've never been a fan of an extremely long batting line up, giving the top order a false sense of security. With that said though, Peterson has already shown how much value he adds with the bat if the top order fails. He hasn't done much worse than Tahir with the ball, and his batting certainly puts him ahead of Tahir for team selection. It would be far easier if they could both play. It's quite simple really. They just have to drop Philander, or Morkel, or Steyn??? Get my point?

  • gibbs.175 on October 7, 2013, 23:17 GMT

    HI Sa fans...let"s see how Demingo get start here,,,He is looking promised for SA cricket as positive approach.... he must look on young talented players like ELGAAR ,D.KOCK ,ABBOTT, BUVUA,LANGE like ...! So here ELGAAR must be given chance because he deserve to play as a spin bowling option and solid batting strenght.....Domingo should take some strong steps toward positive Southafrica cricket' spirit...he should make some names not follow the names.....good luck...play as we played under HANSIE 's golden time.......

  • Integrity1 on October 7, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    @Neville Smeda. It's sad that SA is in the minor predicament that it has to go with the old "finger spinning/lower order batsman/all-rounder" option instead of playing a specialist spinner such as Tahir. I clicked on your profile and it said that you are from SA, Amanzimtoti in particular. I remember seeing a budding wrist-spinner (who was double jointed mind you!) bowling in the South Coast nets a while ago. He was of Indian descent. The guy could turn the ball a mile. Do you know the person who I am talking about? Where is he in the provincial set-up?

  • samincolumbia on October 7, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    The biggest test for SA - Heat, pitches, humidity, dust, food, sandstorm and then Pakistan players!

  • on October 7, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    You don't need to look 'forward' to Steyn and Hafeez. Cuz if that happens you will only be looking backwards since Hafeez will nick ery delivery into the slips or wk. Lolz. Pak team will be In serious predicament, they shudnt play Hafeez cuz he has a bad form and technique against moving ball but to fill up a line up with young inexperience players is also not going to help. Pakistan needs to approach this series with better planning and I highly doubt that is gonna happen. Misbah is still a captain and he's the worst at captaincy. I just hope we get strong performance frm our bowling unit just like we did against England in UAE. SA is a very professional team so I don't expect them to being in a 'trial by spin'.

  • on October 7, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    i was looking forward too see styen vs hafeez in uae.

  • on October 7, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    Neville, it is because Robbie ads an extra batsman to the order. Without Boucher in the middle we lack a play maker to move the ball around in the lower order. His spin is better on bouncy wickets.

  • on October 7, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    SA XI: Smith(c), Petersen, Amla, Kallis, AB, Duminy, Faf, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir.

    Domingo said Robbie P will keep his place, but why not give Tahir a chance in spin-friendly conditions? Tahir has had a bad run because he has had to bowl on England, Aus and SA wickets which offer him very little. Give him a go!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on October 7, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    SA XI: Smith(c), Petersen, Amla, Kallis, AB, Duminy, Faf, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir.

    Domingo said Robbie P will keep his place, but why not give Tahir a chance in spin-friendly conditions? Tahir has had a bad run because he has had to bowl on England, Aus and SA wickets which offer him very little. Give him a go!

  • on October 7, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    Neville, it is because Robbie ads an extra batsman to the order. Without Boucher in the middle we lack a play maker to move the ball around in the lower order. His spin is better on bouncy wickets.

  • on October 7, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    i was looking forward too see styen vs hafeez in uae.

  • on October 7, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    You don't need to look 'forward' to Steyn and Hafeez. Cuz if that happens you will only be looking backwards since Hafeez will nick ery delivery into the slips or wk. Lolz. Pak team will be In serious predicament, they shudnt play Hafeez cuz he has a bad form and technique against moving ball but to fill up a line up with young inexperience players is also not going to help. Pakistan needs to approach this series with better planning and I highly doubt that is gonna happen. Misbah is still a captain and he's the worst at captaincy. I just hope we get strong performance frm our bowling unit just like we did against England in UAE. SA is a very professional team so I don't expect them to being in a 'trial by spin'.

  • samincolumbia on October 7, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    The biggest test for SA - Heat, pitches, humidity, dust, food, sandstorm and then Pakistan players!

  • Integrity1 on October 7, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    @Neville Smeda. It's sad that SA is in the minor predicament that it has to go with the old "finger spinning/lower order batsman/all-rounder" option instead of playing a specialist spinner such as Tahir. I clicked on your profile and it said that you are from SA, Amanzimtoti in particular. I remember seeing a budding wrist-spinner (who was double jointed mind you!) bowling in the South Coast nets a while ago. He was of Indian descent. The guy could turn the ball a mile. Do you know the person who I am talking about? Where is he in the provincial set-up?

  • gibbs.175 on October 7, 2013, 23:17 GMT

    HI Sa fans...let"s see how Demingo get start here,,,He is looking promised for SA cricket as positive approach.... he must look on young talented players like ELGAAR ,D.KOCK ,ABBOTT, BUVUA,LANGE like ...! So here ELGAAR must be given chance because he deserve to play as a spin bowling option and solid batting strenght.....Domingo should take some strong steps toward positive Southafrica cricket' spirit...he should make some names not follow the names.....good luck...play as we played under HANSIE 's golden time.......

  • Gregg22 on October 7, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    I agree with Neville. It would be interesting to see Tahir in subcontinental conditions. On the flip side, i've always liked the idea of having Peterson in the (test) side. He does add a lot of depth to the batting, but besides that, is truly an underrated bowler. Also, i question the effectiveness of Tahir against, well, Pakistan. You would expect them to know a thing or two about his game. I've never been a fan of an extremely long batting line up, giving the top order a false sense of security. With that said though, Peterson has already shown how much value he adds with the bat if the top order fails. He hasn't done much worse than Tahir with the ball, and his batting certainly puts him ahead of Tahir for team selection. It would be far easier if they could both play. It's quite simple really. They just have to drop Philander, or Morkel, or Steyn??? Get my point?

  • on October 8, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    another opportunity for us fans to rewitness the greatness of South Africa. I would like to see this team play the rest of the world. steyn, philander, Robin and morkel vs anderson, ajmal, junaid khan and swan. amla, kallis and AB vs sanga,clarke and KP. Smith vs cook. This will be a mouth watering contest.

  • aa61761 on October 8, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    It clearly shows how worried Saffas are about their batting against spin, they are including Duminy in the team instead of Tahir. Duminy is clearly a batsman who can bowl a little bit. If you look at his bowling in first class cricket, matches=76, wickets=46, best bowling=5/108, average=41.71, economy=3.45, strike rate=72.5, 4wickets=1, 5wickets=1: these are clearly the figures of a support first class cricket bowler - not the figures of a test cricket wicket taking bowler. If the wickets behave like they did in series against England then the result will not be much different as it was against England.